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Published: Sun, November 18, 2018 5:00 AM

Teacher, husband donate new books in OKC district

Principal Carson Cramer sat cross-legged on the carpet of the Capitol Hill Elementary School auditorium and invited three prekindergarten students to share their new books with her.

 Elayna Jones, Zuleyka Rodriguez and Skyeiler Wright were more than happy to comply.

"I got a whale book with whale toys," said Elayna, a chatty 5-year-old with pierced ears and a unicorn head band.

"I like whales. I also like dolphins. I like all the sea animals ... but I don't like sharks. Some sharks are nice. I like nice sharks."

In all, 540 books — one for each student at the school — were donated Friday by Scott and Kathleen Liner, the owners of the Yum Pig food truck.

Kathleen Liner, a special education teacher at the school, and her husband Scott, a former minister and hospice chaplain, donated 50 cents from the sale of every "Cowboy," their best-selling pulled pork and mac and cheese sandwich, toward the purchase of books.

The name and design of the food truck, which sat parked outside the south Oklahoma City school during the book grab, was inspired by "Charlotte's Web," the popular book by E.B. White, Scott Liner said.

Yes, the pig is based on Wilbur, a character in the book," he said.

"We got to thinking, 'How could we give back to the community?'" he said. "Every kid deserves a book."

If kids don't know how to read, they can't do social media, right? They can't be on Facebook. They can't get a job if they can't read. Reading's important." As of Nov. 13, the couple had purchased 636 books. They also plan to donate books to Adams Elementary in Norman, where their son is a teacher.

As many as 80 percent of Capitol Hill students are English Language Learners who read below grade level, Kathleen Liner said.

"Everything involves reading," she said. "No matter what we do at school reading in involved."

 Cramer, the school's second-year principal, said giving students access to literacy is a "big deal."

"They get to choose their own book, which gives them some ownership, and we're helping build their home libraries, which is a big initiative that we've been trying to push," she said.

Cramer challenged the girls seated next to her on the carpet to point out words that started with the letter S or the letter O.

"You guys are so good at finding the letters; I am so proud of you," she said. "When you get to kindergarten you're going to be awesome readers."